The Found Footage Festival Has Triumphed in its Copyright Lawsuit

Comedy News Found Footage Festival
The Found Footage Festival Has Triumphed in its Copyright Lawsuit

In a victory for comedians and satirists everywhere, The Found Footage Festival has finally defeated the lawsuit that has been threatening to derail the popular video series since last year. Announced this morning by FFF creators Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, it represents a huge sigh of relief for both the comedians and fans of the festival, which has been in operation since 2004.

The lawsuit, which you can also read about in Paste’s 2017 feature about the Found Footage Festival, was brought against Pickett and Prueher by the parent company of a small, Midwestern local news station, which was angry after realizing it had been pranked by the pair into putting a fictitious “strong man duo” named Chop & Steele on the air, where they performed unimpressive (and decidedly harmless) feats of strength such as lifting tires and breaking sticks. Watch the clip below, and it will quickly become obvious how silly the whole prank was.

The point of the entire prank series was a critically satirical one, pointing out the lack of basic due diligence being displayed by America’s local news stations. If any of the stations pranked by Chop & Steele had bothered to so much as Google the performers, they would have immediately found out that the duo was a sham. Instead, multiple stations booked the duo for appearances based on nothing more than a press release, calling into question the validity of every other guest they’ve ever hosted. It’s just the latest in a similar series of newsroom pranks for the Found Footage Festival guys, who have previously brought a “celebrity chef” and “yo-yo champion” character to the airwaves. All three times, they had no trouble getting booked on morning news shows.

The parent company of one of the stations subsequently brought a lawsuit against the pair, alleging some form of “fraud,” plus copyright violations for using the footage of the Chop & Steele appearances in Found Footage Festival live shows. Prueher and Pickett countered with a GoFundMe campaign for their legal defense, asserting that fair use laws defended their use of the footage. These complaints have now been dismissed, but the best part of this news is that the suit against FFF was “dismissed with prejudice,” meaning that it can never be brought against them again. Here’s the full statement from the duo:

Friends, the lawsuit is officially over. After almost a full year of Gray TV aggressively pursuing their losing cause, they finally wised up and settled. This is a big win for us. Gray TV was asking us to cover all of their legal fees, for us to make a public apology, and all sorts of other preposterous things and, because of your generous donations, we were able to hire a lawyer and stand up to them. Every single dollar you donated went to pay our legal bills and keep us afloat over the past year. The lawsuit was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be retried, and this sets an important precedent for others who want to point out the absurdity of the news, whether they’re wearing Zubaz workout pants or not.

Joe and I cannot thank you enough for all your support over the past year. The Found Footage Festival would not have been able to continue if it weren’t for your contributions, so from the bottom of our hearts, thanks. We are reinvigorated and will redouble our efforts to put news stations to the test in the dumbest way possible. Will a particularly incompetent cat trainer make the rounds on local stations later this year? Time will tell. In the meantime, thanks again and, as always, give thanks for strengths!

Godspeed, you merry pranksters. We’re eagerly looking forward to Found Footage Festival Vol. 9. Here’s another video of the duo discussing the end of the lawsuit.

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